Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Doing This

While driving back from lunch today, a co-worker turned and asked, "what would you be doing if you could have any job and money wasn't an issue?"

And I thought, and I thought, and I finally said, "I think this one."

He called me a nerd and a suck-up, of course, and then after reminding me that my car was not bugged (and I'm a whole 4-weeks senior to him and don't need to suck up to him anyway), he asked me again. And I said with more conviction this time, "I'd be doing this." If I could make the rules I suppose I'd be doing this while earning double and triple vacation and would use my magical "money doesn't matter" card to take trips with JP and the kids all over the world every few months. But day to day? I think I'd be a lawyer. And if I'm going to be a lawyer, I'd want to be a lawyer for the SEC. At least at this stage of my career.

He reminded me one last time that there are no rules and I don't need to couch things in terms of "this stage of my career," but I can't help but think that way. Someday I might like to be a law firm partner or general counsel of a financial institution, maybe, but I'm not qualified for that job right now and can't imagine doing that job right now, so I don't want that job right now. And you guys, I really love this job. I ran 8 telephone conferences today, questioned a witness, talked to two name partners of AmLaw 20 law firms, and sent out a ton of correspondence, all of which I know will be answered immediately. This job is amazing. I'm sure there are others that are even more amazing, but I don't want for what I don't know.

I think the answer to this question is supposed to something artsy or creative- some hobby you love but that either doesn't pay well or that you aren't quite good enough to get paid for. But I don't have anything like that. I enjoy photography, but I have no interest in taking pictures of other people or inanimate objects and my kids will only allow so many flashes in their presence. I like music in a pedestrian, radio-station listening kind of way. I used to be a good flute player and I'd like to pick it back up one day, but not full time. I am terrible at drawing, painting, and anything else artistic and am at peace with that. I'm good at making Shutterfly photo books, but really, how much time can you spend on that over a month or year? JP's answer would be something entrepreneurial- some activity you enjoy that you could now magically make a living at. But I don't have any ideas or desires there either. The mere thought of owning my own business gives me hives, insomnia, and a headache almost immediately. I would not handle it well, even in this hypothetical world.

Then there's charitable causes. And I am probably revealing myself as a terrible and/or selfish person, but I have no innate desire to do much of anything related to the number of charities we support. I'd like to have more money so I can send them more money, and I'm so glad they all have talented and dedicated people that do their work and fight for their causes, but I don't actually want to DO want they do.

Later it occurred to me that I could/should have said, "stay home." But I don't have any interest in that either. Work less? Sure. Take more family trips? Definitely. Skip work without repercussion on days Claire is being extra adorable or Landon wants to go to the zoo? Yes please! But not having a job or career... that's just not my dream either.

I briefly entertained saying doctor or teacher, both past career plans of mine, but I rejected them over the years for good reason. Law suits me. It combines writing, analytics, creativity, facts, rules, team work, individual work, and high heels.

And so by a combination of lack of imagination, hobbies, skills, and entrepreneurial or charitable drive, a genuine love for what I do, and an overly practical mind that doesn't respond well to hypothetical situations, it appears that I'm working in my dream job. And what a lovely thing to realize as you drive circles up the parking garage on your way back in to work on a Wednesday afternoon.


  1. Jealous! Sounds amazing. I also must remember though that you are such a positive person you used to rave re big law, so I must filter this through that lens of I personally am not that positive.

  2. Yes. 100% yes. About staying home, dream job in law, all of it.

    Although I really wish my job was a) more secure and b) paid better so i could actually see myself staying long term, I feel the same way.

  3. I feel completely the same about my job- attorney with environmental non-profit. I love the work, the day to day, the skills I can use, the results I can accomplish, my co-workers. It's all great. The only tough part is having come to such an awesome job straight from law school it seems like it could only be downhill from here if we need to make a change for whatever reason.
    I'm glad you found something that makes you equally happy- you were always so wonderfully positive about the firm, but I know there must have been rough days.
    It's tough one for me about the time with the kids- my job is super flexible but of course more vacations, more days at the zoo, a few lazy mornings rather than the mad rush etc would be wonderful. On the flip side though it's nice to be indespensible and always in the thick of the fun.

  4. I needed this! I am starting law school this Fall and have been reading so many depressing stories of lawyers who hate their jobs. I didn't go into this decision lightly, and have worked in several other industries, so I'm as close to certain as I can be that law school is the right decision for me. Yet, reading story after story about miserable people in law was starting to get to me. Thanks for the refreshing perspective!

  5. I love this entire post, but especially the last paragraph. How great you were asked the question and took the time to reflect on the answer!

  6. Love it. You always make me think about what I want from life. Oddly, a doctor and teacher were also both past career plans for me. My dad recently switched to work as counsel for the government in mediation and arbitration program development after about 20 years of practice, and he loves it. How relaxed, happy, and in his element he seems is amazing for us to see. Reading your posts about your new job always remind me of his story, and how in law there may be many routes of success and happiness for me too when I get there. It makes me feel much better about applying when I hear about the 'horrors' of firm life :D!

  7. How's your dad doing? Thought about that the other night.

  8. Love what you're doing and you will never work a day in your life.

    I will never leave Law. Ever. Can't picture it. Of course, I can't say that what I am doing exactly at this moment (which, unfortunately, is not much) is my absolute dream, but for me it's knowing that I'm on the right track to get to some unknown dream job (of my own making and choosing, which I will know when I get there). Because at this stage in my life, I'm not much interested in doing something law-related just because I can (even if I'm quite good at it). And there's bill to pay. And those darm kids want to each. Every. Single. Day.

    Oops, before I forget to say it ... really happy for you!

  9. You are lucky and luckier that you realize it! When I was little I always said I want to be a philanthropist when I grew up. I still think I'd enjoy that. But dude, I'd have to deal with LAWYERS! Wait, I am a lawyer... I enjoy this much more than most things (commercial law for me). And when I admit what my dream job would be(singing), I remember that I hate being the center of attention and figure maybe I wound up better off that I let myself admit! I look at other people's jobs sometimes and think about how tiring they would be, and I'm amazed that I get paid as well as I do. Also it can be stressful, but without stres and adrenaline, I turn lackadaisical and hate myself for it because I'm not a self-starter. But I am happy for you, and should probably work on being more so for myself!

  10. This was an awesome post that made me smile. :-)